As funding woes continue to tax the city of Pataskala, city council members are keeping their options open for taxing the residents.

As funding woes continue to tax the city of Pataskala, city council members are keeping their options open for taxing the residents.

Before they take a final vote on placing either an income tax or property tax on the May ballot, though, members said they want to hear from community members. They have scheduled an open house for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 30, in council chambers. Council then will meet at noon after the open house to consider the community feedback.

Council members took the first step during their Jan. 19 business meeting by hearing two ordinances to move forward with a tax initiative. One ordinance would put an income-tax initiative on the May 4 ballot, calling for a 1-percent tax beginning July 1, 2010, and a 2-percent tax with up to a 1-percent credit to begin July 1, 2011. Another is a 7-mill property tax.

Council waived the required three readings and passed an ordinance to have the Licking County auditor certify Pataskala's assessed valuation, which must occur prior to putting a property-tax levy on the ballot.

Council has until 4 p.m. Feb. 18 to register a ballot initiative with the county board of elections. Council is expected to make a decision during its Feb. 16 meeting.

As with mast tax options, council again seems split over the two tax measures, which have been considered for each of the past eight failed levy attempts.

Councilman Bernard Brush said he wants people to know that property-tax revenue could continue to increase as people and businesses move to the city.

"Historically, at least over the past 10 to 15 years, this city has grown by leaps and bounds, and here has been a lot of real estate transactions," Brush said. "There has been a lot of real estate transactions. That is why the real estate property-tax base has increased. If that would continue, property tax (revenue) would increase."

City finance director Jason Carr said the value of a mill increases and decreases, based on rises and drops in property values, and is collected based on the effective millage rate.

"That does not always necessarily mean we are going to collect what the full value is," said Carr, who has said he favors an income tax.

Residents also seem to remain split.

Pataskala resident Jack Jacox said the "only sensible tax is an income tax."

"To have anything other than an income tax is crazy," he said. "Don't let the landed interest force everyone in the bedroom community to carry the load."

Jacox called the former Lima Township residents "freeloaders" for not passing an income tax.

Resident Mike Fox said he disagreed.

"He just called more than half of the city of Pataskala freeloaders," Fox said. "Fifty-seven percent of the city said no to the last income tax. Citizens for Responsible Taxation, a local political-action committee, will not stand idly by while this council continues to force a 2-percent income tax. If it gets put back on the ballot, I guarantee you it will be turned down again. I'm not sure why you can't get it through your heads."

He suggested that council put on a 1-percent income tax and possibly even lower than that.

"Put something on that can pass," Fox said. "I think that the city has cried wolf so much that, just like the little storybook, it is going to happen."